The Vallejo Admirals haven’t made much noise in the Pacific Association standings lately.
That didn’t change on Tuesday as they lost to the first-place Sonoma Stompers 5-2 and dropped their sixth straight game, tumbling into fourth place. Vallejo, however, did manage to get under the skin of at least one Stomper.
Admirals left fielder Nick Akins Sr. and Sonoma third baseman Kevin Farley exchanged words as Akins was rounding the bases after his 24th homer in the seventh inning. Akins watched from home plate as the home run left the yard, possibly leading to Farley’s reaction.
Asked what he thought the Stompers were angry about Akins said, “I don’t know what they thought. I was just running to third and he straight up said ‘F-me’ to my face. We’re not playing that.”
Stompers pitcher Kenny Mathews, who surrendered the homer said about the fracas: “You know, it was just dudes competing out there. We’re all adults. Certain guys don’t like certain things. We moved on and finished the ball game.”
Mathews did not appear to be involved in the dust-up but he was plenty involved in the outcome. The left-hander retired the first 17 batters of the game before Chris Fornaci broke up the string with a clean double to left field. For the game, he struck out 11 and allowed just three hits and two runs over seven innings. He did not walk a batter.
Mathews said he has never thrown a perfect game in his life. He said it lingered in the back of his mind as he kept retiring batters.
“We were repeating pitches really well there,” Mathews said. “I think just sticking with our game plan and not letting the moment get too big is really what we’ve been doing all season.”
The Stompers (44-21) gave Mathews (3-0) plenty of run support with a three-run third inning against losing pitcher Wilfri Aleton (0-1), making his second start with the Admirals (31-34).
After one out, Farley singled to center and Kam Stewart doubled him home for the first run. Kenny Meimerstorf singled to left through a drawn-in infield to score Stewart. The third run scored on Vallejo shortstop David Kiriakos’ throwing error.
Sonoma led 4-0 in the fourth as ex-Admiral Ryan Cooper doubled to center and scored on Rob DeAngelis single.
The Fornaci double with two outs in the sixth paid dividends as Vlad Gomez then dumped a single into right to make it 4-1.
Unfortunately for the Admirals, Sonoma made it 5-1 in the top of the seventh when a Stewart RBI single scored Farley.
Akins’ homer in the bottom of the seventh made it 5-2 but that’s as close as Vallejo would get. Reliever D.J. Sharabi pitched a scoreless eighth and Jacob Cox recorded his league-leading 20th save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Vallejo has just 15 games remaining with just five at home. The top four teams in the league make the playoffs so the Admirals must hold off Napa (27-38) for at least fourth place.
“We need some heart … we need some heart, some toughness,” Akins said. “We’re just laying down. Guys are throwing some at-bats away, getting mentally lazy on defense, not hustling. We’re just playing bad baseball right now all the way around. Pitching did a better job tonight but we have to compete more. We’re not competing right now.”
Notes: Akins is now tied for second in the league’s all-time single-season home run list as he and Mike Taylor (2014, Pittsburg) both have 24. The all-time mark is Sonoma’s Matt Chavez, who launched 31 in 2015. … Vallejo catcher Nick Crouse was twice hit with Sonoma players’ back swings. Despite being hit by Tim Henry’s back swing in the top of the eighth, Crouse led off the bottom of the eighth and struck out against Sharabi.